I've recently had two good dinners, both specials, at Dakota Blue in Grant Park. It's easy to risk the restaurant's frequent unpredictability when you're paying less than $10.
First was a meal of brisket with a kick-ass, tongue-stinging mustard sauce. It was served with rather weirdly seasoned braised spinach and some cornbread. The second meal was a couple of really good pork-filled tamales made by the Mexican cook there, according to our server. They were served with black beans and rice....
My Friday night dinner friends and I headed to Chateau de Saigon recently. I had my usual dish of "burnt" rice topped with pork cooked until caramelized in a clay pot. My idea was to introduce them to some gourmet-style Vietnamese food, but nearly everyone at the table annoyed me by ordering Chinese-style dishes.
It was confusing. Our server assured me that none of the dishes were Chinese, despite what looked to me like obvious Cantonese cuisine. Another server, stopping by, said that the dishes were Cantonese for sure. Then another, the chattiest of the trio, said they were Chinese dishes cooked Vietnamese-style.
Whatever! The food was great, but somebody needs to better educate the staff....
We also visited Tierra recently. I had two stellar dishes — an entree of chicken mole and a dessert of fig pie. The latter is off the menu for now, but if you ever get a chance, order it, even though it means skipping the restaurants unequaled tres leches cake. As for the mole, also apparently off the menu, it was luscious, served with a chicken breast.
The Beer Growler, a shop out of Athens, is reportedly looking at space in Avondale Estates for their first Atlanta-area shop. Avondale is apparently working on some legislation changes that would make it possible for the shop, which will sell to-go specialty draft beers, to start pouring.
OMG Taco is said to be coming to Little Five Points. The restaurant will serve fusion tacos that combine Korean and Mexican flavors. Sounds a bit similar to the flavors found at Hankook (and also served by the Yumbii truck).
Cabernet Sun., May 18, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Annual Brunch Buffet including Prime Rib and Lobster Tails. Adults $49.95, children 6-12, $21.95, five and under free. 5575 Windward Parkway. 770-777-5955. www.cabernesteakhouse.com
For a memorable meal wrapped in a freshly steamed tortilla, head to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market near downtown. If it's a spiritual experience, there's a reason. Bell Street Burritos is run by a former professor of religion from Morehouse College. "The beans are tender, the red sauce is just spicy enough, the green sauce is full of tomatillos, cilantro and jalapenos," Baldwin [of Thrillist.com] says. 678-732-0488.
This of course will be controversial. Indeed, Besha herself yawned after sampling Bell Street's burritos, causing a flurry of controversy among commenters. So, let it be noted that USA Today didn't call Bell Street one of the "10 best." It called it a "great place," not a "best place." Got that? Good.
It doesn't help USA Today's credibility that they mislabeled the photo accompanying the story.
Economic apocalypse may be shaking up the restaurant biz in town. But at least one restaurant is going gangbusters.
Today I tried something amazing. I noticed a heap of glistening shards, each about the size of a potato chip, on the counter. They looked like freshly mined gold. Owner Taria Camerino explained to me that it was "chia brittle."
"Chia seeds," she said. "You know, like the Chia Pets. The seeds taste kind of like sesame."
The flavor was indeed as good as the appearance. The sticky brittle, slightly crispy at first, rapidly melts in the mouth, flooding it with sweet caramelized sugar and the toasty flavor of the seeds. I could eat it like Cracker Jacks.
Camerino plans, by the way, to be at the Urban Picnic at Sweet Auburn Curb Market on Friday (April 29). She doesn't have a stand or a food truck but plans to work the crowd by carrying her goodies in a cigarette tray. Hunt her down. (Check out the Picnic's Facebook page.)
The AJC Spring Dining Guide came out today. There are a ton of lists of don't-miss places from writers Jenny Turknett, Gene Lee and Jon Watson. And John Kessler reviews both Restaurant Eugene and Bacchanalia.
The scandal of the day, if scandal is something we can seriously attach to restaurant criticism, is that neither of these restaurants received 5 stars from Kessler. He even wrote a separate note about why neither restaurant attained the 5-star rating. It's an interesting idea, that there might be no such thing in Atlanta as a 5-star restaurant right now.
Interestingly, the commenters over there seem more outraged that Eugene didn't get a lower rating.
As we close in on the end of spring we're also nearing the first Atlanta Food & Wine Festival (May 19-22).
Along with seminars, demonstrations, tastings and discussions by leading Atlanta chefs, mixologists and sommeliers, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival will have some intensely fun sounding after hours specials. At these "a la carte" gatherings, guests will mix and mingle with the professionals at restaurants and private homes. There's also late night Street Cart parties.
On Friday night, one of the eventss will be a Chef's Choice Wine Dinner with Hugh Acheson of Empire State South, Karen and Ben Barker of Magnolia Grill and Frank Stitt of Highlands Bar and Grill ($150). Then, on Saturday night Kevin Rathbun of Rathbun's, Kevin Rathbun Steak and Krog Bar will host a chef's party with Stephan Pyles of Stpehen Pyles Restaurant and Jeff Tunks or Acadiana.
An updated schedule of the A la Carte events follows after the jump. A full schedule of the festival's events is available online. However, be warned that some events are exclusive to specific ticket levels.
Drama: During Monday night's storm, an enormous tree was uprooted by the wind and crashed onto the outdoor dining area at Canoe. There were a few diners eating on the awning-covered patio but nobody was hurt, apparently.
The tree did not damage the rest of the restaurant. My source says pandemonium broke out when the tree fell. The power went off, people were yelling and the open kitchen, without ventilation, filled the restaurant with smoke.
My source says his favorite moment occurred when an apparently unperturbed diner, oblivious to the power outage, asked him if he had an iPhone charger on him. And people laugh when we say that cyberspace is overtaking real time.
Remember how in the final round of Top Chef: All Stars they landed the crew in the Bahamas and they had to make food to please the locals, not just the judges? Well a new show is being cooked up (see what I did there?) to do that every episode.
The new concept will take three "rock star chefs" — read "Specifically ethnic/international male and female chefs that reside in the US (especially interested in - British, Aussie, New Zealand, South African chefs)" — drop them somewhere in the world and in 24 hours have them cook for the locals, who will judge the food. In the end of the series (as far as is apparent in the description), the respective chefs' creations will be judged against eachother to see who has the best food in all the world. (oooohhh, ahhhhh). But they won't compete for money, just bragging rights.
From the same casting call outlet we get another show. In the next concept, the undisclosed network and/or creator wants — and this wonky, ya'll — a divorced pair of chefs! You've got it, folks. This "Major NYC Television Production company" wants divorced or separated couples who are both culinary professionals, i.e. "restaurant, private, catering, savory, culinary instructors, cookbook authors etc." to collaborate on a new cooking show.
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